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Unexpected kids: Four sets of quadruplets

Becky and Philip Vierling, who live on 10 acres of the old Anderson homestead in Denmark Township, breed their Nubian long-eared goats every fall and expect kids the next spring, but this year was different.

"We didn't want as many kids, so we only bred four does," Becky Vierling said.

They received four sets of quadruplets.

"That's almost unheard of," she said. "Female goats (does) only have two teats, so the remaining kids must be fed by hand."

Becky milks the mothers twice a day, pasteurizes the milk, heats it to 110 degrees and feeds it to the kids. The kids get milk for at least 20 weeks before moving on to hay, she said.

Although Becky calls the 10 acres a hobby farm, both Vierlings are serious about goat breeding and showing. Philip bought their first doe, Rose, when they moved into Denmark Township in 2003.

"It was our silver anniversary and the Nubians have long, silver ears," she said.

That first year, they showed Rose at the county fair and won several blue ribbons. They eventually showed Rose's granddaughter, Radiance, at the state fair and took grand champion, Becky said.

All their show animals are tattooed and registered with the American Dairy Goat Association. Before they breed their does, they study bloodlines and breeding books. "We only keep the does," Becky said. "We show them, breed them and make great-tasting goat cheese."

The remaining kids are sold for pets, to 4-H members or for breeding. The selling price can range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the bloodlines.

Becky said goats make great pets. "They're closest to dogs in intelligence and personality. They're very gentle and friendly and they know their owners."

The Vierlings also have five barn cats, two house cats and two dogs. "They're all fixed," Becky said laughing. Outside, they have chickens -- protected by a pair of geese, and three male llamas that guard the goats.

"The llamas will charge intruders, then make a humming noise that signals the goats to go into the barn," she said. "It works."

Her favorite creatures, however, live in a large seawater aquarium -- live corals, fish and anemone.

"The goats are Philip's hobby," she said. "He likes them and says they're cheaper than golf."